Watch: Oklahoma announces Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence; public health lab moved

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health, in partnership with Governor Kevin Stitt and federal, state and private industry leadership, announced today by the establishment of the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE), the first center of its kind in the nation at the intersection of agriculture, animal and human medicine, food safety, public health testing and preparedness.

“Today is an exciting day for our state and nation as we establish the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “This center is going to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state in health care innovation and research, as the work completed here will lead global efforts in pandemic preparedness and other public health issues.” 

Located in Stillwater, the center will serve as the state’s frontline of defense against any future biosecurity-threatening diseases and will leverage Oklahoma’s unique rural and urban assets to benefit public health.

“Our integrated approach to public health, diagnostic capabilities and specimen collection will become the gold standard for detecting, responding to and monitoring global health pandemics through the OPCIE,” said Dr. Lance Frye, Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health. “We believe this unique approach positions Oklahoma as a national and global leader in pandemic preparedness and research.” 

This center will administratively bring together a breadth of capabilities both locally and

nationally, and will include partnering with Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and numerous other public and private partners. The Public Health Lab will serve as a pillar of OPCIE and will include a human diagnostic/public health laboratory, a genetic biorepository and a multi-disciplinary basic science lab for human, animal, plant and food-related bioterrorism research. 

“The center will become the national model for the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive approach to promoting and preserving public health,” said Elizabeth Pollard, Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation. “The OPCIE is the perfect intersection of urban  and rural communities, agriculture, animal and human medicine and public and private partnerships. Today would not be possible without a lot of hard work put in by state and legislative leadership, who have positioned Oklahoma as a national leader. Creating this center of excellence in Oklahoma allows our state to leverage our local expertise and federal assets while we work to lead the nation in pandemic preparedness.” 

OPCIE’s creation is being announced as part of the state Public Health Lab’s move to Stillwater. Coupled with OSDH’s move to downtown Oklahoma City, the creation of the OPCIE and the move of the PHL to the heart of rural Oklahoma in Stillwater will give the state a leg up in both rural and urban medicine for generations to come. 

“The OSDH administration is moving to a new facility, which does not include a location for the Public Health Lab,” said Kevin Corbett, Secretary of Health and Mental Health. “This move provides the state an opportunity to think differently about how we elevate science and innovation for both urban and rural Oklahoma on the national stage. Leveraging OSU’s rural expertise in agriculture and animal medicine along with OU’s urban expertise in human medicine, as well as private research investments, this relocation of the Public Health Lab to Stillwater will take our offerings to the highest caliber and put the heart of public health right in the middle of rural America.”  


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